June 3, 2009
Excellent, but more complete version elsewhere
There are three versions of this show here at archive. The one called cotsman is the best: it has the material from 8/22 and is complete. It is here:
The version called Jools is also from 8/22, but contains only the second half, and is missing some of the best material of the show.
This one, koucky, the second half (from Alligator on) is definitely from 8/21 – it is note-for-note the same as for the 8/21 show here at Archive.org.
The show starts with a nice St. Stephen, still only a few months old, but sounding much like 1969’s Aoxomoxoa, complete with bells. Jerry’s vocal volume is low in St. Stephen, but comes up in The Eleven. Jerry and Phil duel it out in an inspired jam in The Eleven, fast and electric and just flying. From those heights the band makes a smooth landing right into Death Don’t Have No Mercy—just a fabulous transition. Death is a beautiful performance: powerful vocals by Jerry, perfect organ embellishments, and tight playing and jamming rise and fall in intensity, as do the best Morning Dews.
This Dark Star is one fine example of crafted ensemble improvisation, as tight and masterful as anything from 1974 or 1977. It exceeds the excellent Dark Star of the previous night. August 1968 is the beginning period of the best Dark Stars.
The Dead play a dynamite Other One. It’s tempting to call it one of the best of the year, but there are so many good ones in ‘68. Jerry and Phil are zooming, Bill is going nuts on drums, Pigpen putting the icing on the confection. There’s a nice transition into New Potato, which really rocks. We get an extended Phil solo here, which is rare after 1974.
The Alligator on is good, but is from 8/21/09. This version is missing the excellent material from 8/22. Do yourself a favor and go listen to the Cotsman version, which I give 5 stars.
I really like this show.
But this show is part of a great run of shows on 4 consecutive nights: 8/21, 8/22, 8/23, and 8/24 (released as Two From the Vault – which is probably actually one show, from 8/24).